I wasn’t yet alive when John F. Kennedy gave his famous “We choose to go to the moon” speech, yet I have heard it, and it is moving.
Particularly this part, which I heard again earlier this week:
We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.
We choose to do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.
Kennedy explains the why to this in his speech (because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills) and that is indeed a great reason.
Sometimes we do things that are hard (and because they are hard) in an effort to bring out the best in ourselves. We know that we are capable of more than what we’ve yet accomplished, and the challenge of something new and bigger is appealing.
Yet what bout hat about the later moments when the excitement of the challenge has passed, and we are still in the trenches, slogging it out, tired, bruised, discouraged?
To what beacon can we look for inspiration and hope then?
I heard it said once that accountability is continuing action toward a goal even after the mood in which the goal was set has passed.
What hope can we grab onto in those moments when that mood of excitement has long passed, and we feel as though we are testing the limits of our skills, strength and patience?
For some, it may be to recall the feeling in the beginning. To recall the reason why, to conjure up that previous mindset of excitement and determination. If this works for you, wonderful. Keep doing what you’re doing.
I’d like to offer another option.
How does triumph feel?
Think back to a time when you succeeded at something. And I mean REALLY succeeded. I’m not talking about winning the spelling bee handily because you were so far advanced of the other kids that it wasn’t even a fair fight.
I’m not talking about the time when you won the break-dancing contest at your cousin’s wedding, competing against aunts and uncles who hadn’t danced in 20 years.
I’m talking about a time when you struggled and fought and to accomplish something and you really weren’t sure you were going to make it.
Maybe it was a test that you studied like mad for, struggling through foreign concepts, making mistakes, needing (and getting) help from others to clarify, understand and prepare, and you walked out of the exam room thinking you flunked, only to discover later that your efforts won you an A.
I’m talking about the time you ran your first marathon and the last couple of miles you were certain that you weren’t going to be able to take more than the next five steps. And yet somehow, you made it.
Think of a time like that.
How did that feel?
I remember the time I did my first BOLD 100.
This is an exercise Realtors can do during the coaching program called BOLD. This is NOT a required activity. It is a bonus challenge. And holy crap, was it ever scary for me to attempt. I mean, when I first attended BOLD, I had never called ANYONE on the phone before to ask for business, much less 100 people in one day.
I was terrified. And yet for some crazy reason I decided that doing a BOLD 100 was precisely what I needed in order to get over my fear.
It was hard. I was afraid. It took several hours to do. I was incredibly uncomfortable. Sweating.
And then something incredible happened.
I finished it.
And when I finished, I experienced a euphoria that I literally don’t remember having before in my adult life. I felt like I was walking on air.
(BTW is this why people run marathons? I have no idea.)
The other amazing part of this is that I can continue to use that experience for the rest of my life. Specifically, I can recall that feeling anytime I want, and it helps me to remember that I can make it happen again, not just in my memory.
Accomplishing something that’s really hard gives us this feeling.
Also, please remember that sometimes we have to fail a few times before we get there. In my case, that successful BOLD was NOT my first attempt. It was my second.
The first one I didn’t make it far enough by the middle of the day and then I gave up. (Quitting, incidentally, felt the opposite of euphoric.)
But then I did it.
And you can too.
So keep this in mind:
There are several great reasons for doing hard things.
This is one of them: The incredible feeling you will get when you succeed. And that feeling will be yours to keep, reflect upon, and use for the rest of your life.
Go do it.